5G and multi-access edge computing

Mobile Security Index
2021 Report

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  • In the two preceding editions of this report, we’ve looked at the additional security features built into 5G. Since we first wrote about it, 5G technology has gone from our test facilities to being available to millions of users: Verizon 5G is available in over 2,700 cities across the U.S. and private 5G services are being rolled out around the world.

    • 41%

      Forty-one percent of respondents said that their organization had already begun using 5G and a further 53% said that they are actively considering it.

  • Back in the days of 3G, watching video on your mobile phone was doable, but it wasn’t exactly a great experience. Today, we take for granted being able to stream high-def video and do a million other things on our phones.

    We’ll probably look back on the launch of 5G in a similar way. And—like the transition from 3G to 4G, as well as making the doable better—5G will make entirely new things possible. Very soon, it will seem normal that everything is connected and intelligent. And in 10 years’ time—that’s how long 4G has been around—the world will be barely recognizable.

    5G has been developed to support technologies that weren’t really on the agenda when 4G was developed, like smart devices, augmented reality and artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) apps. It is able to deliver ultralow-latency, high-bandwidth connectivity reliably to a huge number of devices.

    Together with important advances in edge computing, 5G offers fast, affordable connectivity for a massive number of devices—single-digit millisecond latency and up to 1,000,000 devices per square-kilometer. That’s game-changing. It’s light-years ahead of anything that’s gone before in being able to exchange rich real-time data.

    The potential applications are mind-boggling. Today, robots mainly do repetitive tasks. With 5G and edge computing, we’ll see intelligent robots take on much more complex and interactive tasks. And cobotics, when robots and people collaborate, will take human capabilities to new levels. We’ll also see digital twins and mirror worlds—virtual replicas of real-world environments—enable companies to optimize their operations and weigh the effect of changes before making them. 5G and edge computing will also facilitate intelligent video applications. This will enable automated quality control and many more game-changing applications in manufacturing and beyond. In retail, there’s no shortage of ways to deliver magical experiences for shoppers, like extended-reality changing rooms and intelligent virtual assistants. The possibilities are almost endless.

    The built-in security improvements help, but otherwise securing personal 5G devices, like phones and tablets, is very similar to securing their 4G, and even 3G, cousins. However, these new applications, often using entirely automated devices, present new challenges. Also, as these new uses generate richer data, attackers will find new ways to
    exploit it.

    The simple solution would be to “wait and see,” but the potential benefits of 5G-enabled applications are too great for companies to let their competitors get the upper hand. It’s vital that companies choose partners that have the expertise and experience required to build security into solutions from the ground up. This includes physically hardening devices, implementing device authentication, encrypting data in transit, patching and testing for vulnerabilities, and managing network security.

  • CISOs should consider adopting 5G devices that provide always connected and secure frameworks to the cloud. These enable the workforce to be efficient from anywhere, with advanced security features, such as platform intelligence and zero trust, that help protect against potential risks.

    - Miguel Nunes, Senior Director Product Management, Qualcomm

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